Membership: Six unidentified men
Purpose: Using incendiary devices disguised as
perfume bottles, the Fire Bandits ignited fires in the apartments of
wealthy individuals; three gang members would then disguise themselves
as firemen and loot the apartments of valuables while real firefighters
were combating the blaze.
Aliases: "Phoney firemen" (as called by Captain
Affiliations: Snipe Gooligan
Enemies: Bucky (Fred Davis), Captain America (Jeff
Mace) (see comments)
Base of Operations: Tiger Sweet perfume factory,
New York City
First Appearance: Captain America Comics I#59/1 (November, 1946)
History: (Captain America Comics I#59/1 (fb) - BTS) - The past of the individual Fire Bandits members is unknown, but they formulated a scheme to start fires in the apartments of wealthy residents, then they would plunder the homes while disguised as firemen. They developed fire-bombs disguised as bottles of Tiger Sweet perfume. After employing a crew of kids (including Snipe Gooligan) as their sales agents, the Fire Bandits provided them with sample bottles of actual perfume to demonstrate to their customers; the Fire Bandits would later send the disguised incendiary devices to the customers' homes once they had placed orders. When the timed chemical fire-bombs went off, the Fire Bandits would loot the apartments during the confusion caused by the resultant fires.
(Captain America Comics I#59/1) - During one such fire,
the Fire Bandits were about to rob an apartment when Captain America and
Bucky came rushing in to help rescue victims from the inferno. But
Cap noticed that the three "firemen" weren't following proper safety
procedures when they were opening a door to the burning apartment, and
he deduced that they were phonies. Cap and Bucky tackled the
robbers, but one Fire Bandit turned the apartment building's emergency
fire hose on the heroes to cover their escape. Later, after real
firefighters had the blaze under control, Cap spoke with the fire
marshal and learned that some previous apartment fires were similarly
The next day, the three Fire Bandits (in civilian clothes) met with Snipe near the Lee School; Captain America and Bucky recognized them as the burglars and went into action, and a fight ensued. But a small mob of school boys--fans of the heroes and autograph seekers--swarmed around them, which gave the Fire Bandits a diversion to make a getaway, and they fled back to their perfume factory.
(Captain America Comics I#59/1 - BTS) - While in his
mother's apartment, Snipe Gooligan was looking over his perfume
salesbook and noticed that the addresses of his customers matched the
addresses of apartment fires and robberies listed in a newspaper
article. Seeing a connection, Snipe headed to the perfume factory
to confront his employers and accuse them of the crimes.
(Captain America Comics I#59/1) - Becoming concerned that
Snipe was involved with the robbers, Cap and Bucky changed to their
civilian identities and visited Snipe's home, where they were let in by
his mother; although Snipe was gone, Cap noticed Snipe's salesbook and
saw the same connection Snipe had seen earlier--figuring that the
perfume manufacturers were somehow responsible for the fires, Cap and
Bucky headed to the perfume factory.
As Snipe was confronting the mobsters, Captain America and
Bucky came bursting in and battled all six of the gang members, while
Snipe set off the building's sprinkler system, which also activated the
fire alarm. Shortly afterward, firefighters arrived and helped Cap
and Bucky overpower the gang members, and the Fire Bandits were taken
Comments: Created by Stan Lee (writer) and Jack
Timely Comics was still publishing the adventures of Captain America and Bucky into the late-1940s, with the characters referred to as "Steve" and "Bucky" in their civilian identities. But modern Marvel continuity has established that Cap (Steve Rogers) and Bucky (James Buchanan Barnes) were lost and presumed killed-in-action in April, 1945, and their costumed identities were assumed by replacements (@ What If? I#4). Cap was replaced first by William Nasland (formerly the Spirit of '76), and later (following the death of Nasland at the hands of Adam-II's android in 1946) by Jeff Mace (formerly the Patriot), while Fred Davis filled in as Bucky.
So since this Fire Bandits story was published decades
before the above retcon occurred, Captain
America was depicted as "Steve Rogers," while his young sidekick was
"Bucky Barnes". Maybe this continuity glitch could be explained by
saying that Mace and Davis temporarily assumed those names after
undergoing programming from the "False
Memory Chamber"--maybe the two had living
relatives they wanted to protect from enemy reprisal should their
alter-egos ever be compromised, so making them believe they were "Steve
Rogers" and "Bucky Barnes" (two "dead" men with no known family members)
would seem to be a perfect way to conceal their true identities.
Jeff Mace had black hair, while "Steve Rogers" was depicted with blond
hair in this story, so I guess Mace also colored his hair or wore a wig
when he assumed his cover-identity.
In this story, "Steve" accepted a teaching position at the Lee School, and "Bucky" enrolled as a student.
Profile by Ron Fredricks
The Fire Bandits have no known connections to:
A chemical fire-bomb created by the Fire Bandits, it was disguised as a bottle of Tiger Sweet perfume. The upper portion of the bottle contained perfume, while the lower portion was filled with acid and an incendiary fluid separated by a layer of wax--when the acid ate through the wax, it would ignite the incendiary fluid and start a fire.
--Captain America Comics I#59/1
images: (without ads)
Captain America Comics I#59/1, p9, pan1 (main image, two Fire Bandits being tackled by Bucky and Captain America)
Captain America Comics I#59/1, p8, pan5 (three Fire Bandits opening door to burning apartment, as Captain America and Bucky rush in)
Captain America Comics I#59/1, p14, pan2 (remaining three members of Fire Bandits gang)
Captain America Comics I#59/1, p16, pan1 (diagram of incendiary device disguised as bottle of Tiger Sweet perfume)
Captain America Comics I#59/1 (November, 1946) - Stan Lee (writer), Jack Binder (pencils), George Klein (inks)
Last updated: 07/03/16.
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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